In the left-brain world of business — a world dominated by data and logic — a right-brain revolution is taking place. Successful business people are more and more relying on their “inner consultant,” more commonly known as “intuition.” The capabilities we’ll increasingly need to call on are our right-brain resources: creativity, empathy, quick-thinking, meaning, and personal fulfillment.
Business author Tom Peters once noted, “The crazier the times are, the more important it is for leaders to trust their intuition.” What is intuition and why is it important? It’s a resource that, if nurtured, can lead to increased sales, profitable investments, creative inventions, successful hires, advantageous negotiations, bigger profits, and increased accuracy in forecasting business trends. Who wouldn’t want that?
Intuition is a skill we all have. It’s an “Inner Consultant” that we’re all born with. Perhaps some of us have the ability to tap into it more easily than others. But, like any skill, the more we practice it, the better we get at it. Survey after survey indicates that decision-makers in all fields rely on it to make successful decisions and choices.
How Do You Know It’s Your Intuition?
How do we define intuition? It’s a tool for quick and ready insight. It’s the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning. Here are some ways it’s commonly described:
- A gut feeling
- An “aha” moment
- An instinct
- An inner knowing
- A still, quiet inner voice
- A hunch
Intuition is information that’s available to you 24/7. It can help you not only make successful decisions, it can alert you to catastrophes before they arise, provide insight into your relationships, and guide you to your own calling and purpose.
There are many signs that your intuition is communicating with you. In any given situation, you can experience it as a churning stomach when a decision you’re about to make is a bad one. You may also hear an inner voice, or have an a-ha thought or even awaken from a dream with new insight into a complex business issue.
Successful Business Leaders on Intuition
Oprah Winfrey, talk show host and philanthropist — “Learning to trust your instincts, using your intuitive sense of what’s best for you, is paramount for any lasting success. I’ve trusted the still, small voice of intuition my entire life. And the only time I’ve made mistakes is when I didn’t listen.”
Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group — “On many occasions I have followed my intuition: you can’t make decisions based on numbers and reports alone. It’s important to have the courage to follow through on a project if you truly believe it’s worth pursuing. We all have an intuitive sense of what’s best — follow it!”
Howard Gardner, professor of cognition and education at Harvard University — “When you’re entering an area where the unknowns are high, and experience is important, if you don’t rely on intuition you’re cutting yourself short.”
How to Put Your Intuition to Work
Are you ready to use your right brain more effectively? Here are a few exercises and ideas to get you started.
What’s Got Your Attention?
If something keeps nudging you and you can’t get it out of your mind, take some steps towards the idea. Small steps are important. It doesn’t have to be a big leap of faith. You don’t have to know the whole path or the destination. Trust that your intuition is guiding you via the next step to take.
Ignore the Rules
There will be a lot of naysayers when you learn to trust your gut. “You can’t do that.” “It’s not done that way.” “To succeed in business, you need to ___.” The successful business people of tomorrow will be the ones who did things differently today. They trusted their instincts and created new rules, the ones that work for them. If you fail, consider it a detour. Learn from your mistakes, pick yourself back up and move forward again. If you aren’t experiencing setbacks at least some of the time, you’re not truly trying new things.
What Does Your Body Say?
Your physical body has a wealth of information that may lie just below your conscious awareness. The next time you’re faced with a decision, large or small, check in with your body. Does an option feel off, or right in your belly? Are there other physical clues that might indicate a right, or wrong decision?
Make a List of Your Choices
Get out a pad of paper. Think about your goal or intention. It can be an intangible one such as wanting more fun or happiness. It could be a tangible goal such as a job with a specific title, salary or industry. Now write down a dozen or more possible courses of action you could take to meet this goal. After you’ve finished your list, step back and take a look. Which one leaps out at you and makes you want to begin right now. That’s your intuitive answer.
Do you want more success in business? Then listen to that inner voice in the depths of your soul. Pay attention to its wisdom. It wants you to succeed both in business and in all areas of your life. It guides you on the path to true happiness and achievement.